Synopsys To Buy Atrenta, Ansys To Acquire Gear

EDA industry being reshaped by acquisitions in new directions.


By Ann Mutschler & Ed Sperling
As evidence of the continued consolidation in the EDA industry, Synopsys announced Sunday it would acquire privately held formal verification provider Atrenta, for an undisclosed sum. That was followed quickly by Ansys’ announcement that it would buy data analytics firm Gear Design Solutions.

From a strategic perspective, Synopsys co-CEO Aart de Geus said the company has had two or three clusters of gravity: verification, IP and silicon, and now there’s software.

The EDA giant intends to integrate Atrenta’s static verification and implementation technology with its own verification tool as another stepping stone in its comprehensive silicon to software toolflow approach.

Michael Sanie, senior director of verification marketing at Synopsys explained the company has invested in multiple places in what it calls the verification continuum, particularly as verification engineers are also working on bringing up software. This acquisition in particular would allow design teams to start working on verification at the RTL stage.

The acquisition is expected to close this summer.

Beyond verification, Synopsys has made a number of other M&A moves as of late to expand its own market opportunities beyond traditional EDA into software and security. It acquired Coverity in 2014, and then just in the past few weeks snagged Codenomicon and assets from Quotium.

“Security is the wild west,” de Geus observed, and is part of one big continuum.

These adjacencies raise new challenges as software engineers are at a different stages of evolution, he pointed out.

Atrenta is the last of the midsize EDA companies. The rest, including Magma Design Automation, Jasper Design Automation, and Avant! all have been swallowed up by the big three in recent years. But the acquisition of Apache Design by Ansys arguably added a fourth big player. Ansys comes at the market from a broader system perspective, but with $938.5 million in revenue last year it sits comfortably with the Big Three—none of which is a pure-play EDA company anymore, either.

Ansys’ proposed acquisition of Gear, which is expected to close in Q3, adds a data analytics piece to simulation and analysis, a critical need in light of how much data
SoCs are generating from architectural inception through to manufacturing.

“There are three pieces to big data,” said Vic Kulkarni, senior vice president and general manager of the RTL business unit at Ansys. “The first is descriptive analytics, where you say what’s there. The second is predictive analytics. And the third is prescriptive analytics, where you can determine how to avoid issues.”

The Gear acquisition is a step toward the third approach, which requires much deeper understanding of what the data means in the context of a system-level design.

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